Sir John Valentine Carden survives.

I'm confused , Halfaya Pass is a North -South route not East-West, since I'm under the impression the railway goes down the coast why would it go through the pass?
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Because the pass is the only extant route? There was a second route constructed, but wikipedia describes it as being destroyed in WW2. Yes, you can definitely get a rail-line up there, but how long will it take? Given that I'm expecting Tripoli to be in British hands by the end of 1941, I'm not sure you'd be able to manage it in time to make a difference.
 
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Because the pass is the only extant route? There was a second route constructed, but wikipedia describes it as being destroyed in WW2. Yes, you can definitely get a rail-line up there, but how long will it take?
I'm pretty sure the route through the Pass was a road and the railway was built further south as the map seems to show.
 
And why pray tell would you be unloading locomotives anywhere but in Egypt? They would be extending the existing rail lines not building new ones starting from Tobruk or elsewhere. The point being made is that extending the current rail line further essentially costs nothing that cannot be spared from the front and incrementally improves the logistical situation. Just because it does not massively improve the logistical situation by tomorrow afternoon does not mean that long term thinking is useless.

If the thinking is that the fight will be done by the time any rail extension makes a large difference then I guess it's true that the war will be over by Christmas.
OK this is Wikipedia but in OTL
During World War II, the 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge Western Desert Extension railway was built from a junction 10 km east of Mersa Matruh in Egypt, to assist in the Allied defence of the area, and later the Allied advance across North Africa. The coastal railway had reached Sidi Barrani by October 1941 and Tobruk by December 1942, 640 km (400 mi) west of El Alamein.
So the railway does not get out of Egypt for another 6 months - and Tobruk only after it was all over.

So not relevant to this story.
 
OK this is Wikipedia but in OTL

So the railway does not get out of Egypt for another 6 months - and Tobruk only after it was all over.

So not relevant to this story.
Why is everyone so hung up about the railway getting to a certain point (Tobruk, Benghazi, West Horsefly, etc)? It's been pointed out (repeatedly) that the various captured ports do not have sufficient capacity to fully supply the army thus a certain amount of supplies need to come overland from Egypt. If that is the case then every single additional mile of railway helps ease the overall logistics situation. Every litre of gas not burned going the extra miles, every mechanical breakdown deferred for a few additional miles, every trip that is a few miles shorter allowing for more trips in the same length of time, all contribute to a better overall logistical situation. And all this for the very low cost of virtually nothing vital. (shipping some supplies, experts and hiring some labour).

I hate to break it but there is no magic bullet here, no ideal solution, no one stop shopping. It's a matter of small incremental improvements everywhere. Build up the ports, get more trucks, improve the roads, get additional spare parts and maintenance personnel and yes, extend the existing railroad. It's why Rommel failed, he studied tactics not logistics.
 
Why is everyone so hung up about the railway getting to a certain point (Tobruk, Benghazi, West Horsefly, etc)? It's been pointed out (repeatedly) that the various captured ports do not have sufficient capacity to fully supply the army thus a certain amount of supplies need to come overland from Egypt. If that is the case then every single additional mile of railway helps ease the overall logistics situation. Every litre of gas not burned going the extra miles, every mechanical breakdown deferred for a few additional miles, every trip that is a few miles shorter allowing for more trips in the same length of time, all contribute to a better overall logistical situation. And all this for the very low cost of virtually nothing vital. (shipping some supplies, experts and hiring some labour).
This I will accept. The main issue with the railroad is that you're going to be stuck at Halfaya Pass (or wherever you choose to go up the escarpment) until after the end of the campaign.

I hate to break it but there is no magic bullet here, no ideal solution, no one stop shopping. It's a matter of small incremental improvements everywhere. Build up the ports, get more trucks, improve the roads, get additional spare parts and maintenance personnel and yes, extend the existing railroad. It's why Rommel failed, he studied tactics not logistics.
Yep, there's no magic bullet.
 
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26 March 1941. Marada. Libya.
26 March 1941. Marada. Libya.

Lieutenant Peter Allsup, OC 2 Troop, A Squadron, 3rd Sharpshooters watched the approaching dust cloud with interest. Since the attack on Ras el Ali, the expectation of a German approach to the oasis had been heightened. The small garrison force had been on alert, as normal, but a Royal Dragoon patrol had spotted the approaching Germans and radioed a warning.

The garrison, a Company of infantry, a battery each of field guns and anti-tank guns, a troop of Valiant I* tanks, and various support troops, wouldn’t be able to put up much of defence against a full assault, but was considered strong enough to see off anything short of an extremely strong reconnaissance force. Radio communications with the main positions at the coast were adequate, and if the enemy really wanted to take and hold the oasis, then they would set off a tripwire to alert XIII Corps.

Allsup had positioned his three tanks, Achilles, Apollo and Adonis, in hull down positions that were well camouflaged. The problem of keeping the size of the garrison from the Luftwaffe’s reconnaissance efforts was a constant worry. The Sharpshooters’ Troop Leader had picked a position on the flank of the oasis defences, giving him a good position to roll up on the flank of an attacking force, or making it difficult for them to get into the rear of the position.

It wasn’t entirely clear from his view of the approaching force what it consisted of, but he certainly was aware that there appeared to be tracked as well as wheeled vehicles. The information that had been circulated from the examination of the captured German vehicles after Dunkirk, meant that Allsup had a fair idea of what to expect. If this was a reconnaissance in force, there were probably some Panzer IIs, which he knew his 2-pdr guns would be well capable of dealing with. There was a lot of speculation that that after the fighting in France and Belgium, the Germans would probably add more armour to their tanks. That was something he expected to discover shortly.

The standing orders for the garrison was to allow the enemy to approach to within rifle range before opening fire. Allsup had told his other two tank commanders to remain concealed for as long as possible. He wanted the presence of his troop of tanks to be a nasty surprise, to further complicate the German response to the oasis being defended. What surprised him was that the dust cloud suggested that this was a larger force than he had suspected. It began to look as if the there were three parallel columns, which would probably mean that they intended to attack from three sides. If so, this was going to be a lot more interesting that Allsup really wanted it to be. To complicate matters even further, the drone of aircraft could be heard. It seemed that the Luftwaffe were on hand to support the ground forces.

A dozen Stukas plastered the oasis for a good five minutes, the scream of their sirens adding to the terror of being bombed. The garrison only had Bren guns as air defence, and the men firing them believed they’d managed to hit a couple of Stukas, but all the German aircraft flew off, apparently undamaged. While the air raid had been going on, the three approaching columns had indeed separated out and where obviously attempting to hit the oasis from a number of directions.

Allsup’s tanks had survived the bombing raid, though there had been a couple of near misses which had rocked the tanks and blown off the camouflage netting. Over the radio net, it seemed that at least a couple of the guns, both field and anti-tank had been put of action, and Allsup could see that one of the storage dumps had been hit and was burning furiously, which probably meant that at least some of the spare petrol was gone.

The Royal Engineers had laid some marked minefields in the hope of channelling an attacking force into pre-set fire zones. While this was partially successful, the British garrison was still trying to recover from the air attack when the first elements of the German assault began their attack. With the range decreasing fast, Allsup ordered his troop of tanks to open fire on the column which was coming directly towards the oasis, which he could now see the first element consisted primarily of some Panzer IIs and half-tracks. Only one of the three British tanks scored a hit on the first volley. A Panzer II had been struck on the engine deck, bringing it to a complete stop. The same gunner in Adonis hit the same tank in the side of the turret, before changing target. Allsup's own gunner managed a hit on his second try putting a round into the running gear of a second Panzer II, slewing off the track and spinning it round, where he was able to put a second shot through the driver’s position.

The gunner in Apollo finally managed to hit with his third attempt, having resorted to using the co-axial machine gun on a passing half-track, stitching rounds all along its flank. The ambush having been launched, Allsup wanted to try to get another few shots off before moving the tanks out of the hull down position, a decision which caused the death of the crew of Adonis. As it brewed up, Allsup recognised the presence of some bigger tanks which were following the Panzer IIs. Calling his gunner to change target to the new threat he also ordered the driver to move, while trying not to let his voice betray his panic too much. He concentrated on the new threat, it looked like pictures of the Panzer III but seemed to have a longer gun. While his Achilles, and the sergeant commanding Apollo, moved out of their positions it became a gun fight between the two British tanks and four German tanks. The front glacis of his tank saved his crew’s lives as a German shell ricocheted off it, and Allsup heard his gunner curse that it looked like he had hit the Panzer without penetrating.

The tanks began a dance to be able to avoid being hit, while hitting the enemy in a vulnerable spot. The gunner in Apollo looked as if he had got his act together and scored a disabling hit on one of the German tanks. His own gunner’s cry of delight noted that his second hit on his target had penetrated the enemy. The noise inside the turret was deafening, it seemed a Panzer II was thumping away with its cannon, while not penetrating at the moment, it could well damage something important. Allsup had some vague memory of a lecture about how the Panzers had overwhelmed the French tanks last May with this kind of fast paced manoeuvrability. There was nothing for it, but to knock out the larger Panzers with the long guns, which were an obvious threat, then the lighter tanks could be dealt with, if he was still alive.

As Apollo’s crew bailed out of their tank, Allsup could see the German machine guns cutting them down before they got to safety. He was on his own now, but as far as he could see there was only the one Panzer III left, something had obviously got the other one. The driver was warning him that the engine was overheating, maybe something had penetrated the engine compartment after all. The gunner and loader had been working together brilliantly, and again, just after the cry of ‘away’, the gunner shouted ‘gotcha!’ The last of the Panzer IIIs was burning. Allsup had been watching where the Panzer IIs were, and immediately called the next target. As the turret turned, Allsup could smell something burning, there was something of a haze building up in the turret, and he ordered the driver to halt. The 2-pdr could do its job, even at a distance. As the gunner engaged, the loader was working a fire extinguisher at whatever it was that was alight, so Allsup pulled a couple of rounds from the ready locker and reloaded when the gun barked. The driver had shut the engine down, which cut off power to the turret, but a quick glance around his viewing slits Allsup realised that the Panzers he could see were all stopped too. The loader told him the fire was out, and was back at his station.

As he opened the top hatch and drunk in the fresh air, he could see that the rear of the tank had been chewed up by the cannon fire, it looked like the exhausts and cooling intakes had been shot away. The sound of fighting from the oasis continued but he and his crew were now at a distance and isolated. With the engine dead, so was the radio. It was something that had been noted previously that the tank could do with some kind of extra source of electricity for the radio and turret traverse when the engine was off. His three tanks had taken on eight German Panzers, four each of the Panzer IIs and IIIs. He ordered the crew to bail out of the tank, and head back on foot to their original position. Depending on what was happening with the rest of the garrison, they would have to see what they would do next. As they passed the wreck of Apollo he found two of the crew wounded, and sorted out a makeshift stretcher to carry the gunner whose wounds were worst, the other man, the loader, was able to hobble on one leg supported his own loader. The tank commander had been riddled with bullets, and the driver was only halfway out of the hatch before he’d been gunned down.

When they got back to where Adonis was blazing, ammunition cooking off inside it, he took the men a bit further, back towards the oasis, where the sound of fighting seemed to have died down. He was quite convinced that he was about to go ‘into the bag’, if he wasn’t cut down in cold blood. But as he and his men approached the oasis defences, he found himself challenged by a very Cockney accent. Having given the appropriate reply a couple of stretcher bearers soon arrived to carry off the injured gunner.

The two loaders carried on towards the aid post while Allsup went looking for the HQ. He found Captain Spencer of the infantry, bandaged heavily, along with the Lieutenant in charge of the Royal Artillery battery. The two columns that had attacked either side of the oasis had consisted only of a company of infantry in trucks. The main force was that which Allsup had engaged, eight tanks and four half-tracks. While the Valiant I*s had taken on the tanks, the anti-tank gunners and one of the 25-pdrs firing over open sights had done for the rest of the armoured element. The German infantry attacking from the south had got themselves tangled up in a minefield, allowing Spencer to focus most of his force on the attack from the north, then back onto the Germans in the minefield. The garrison had suffered greatly, but Spencer had been able to get through to the coast and let them know they needed reinforcements. Allsup reported that all three of his tanks were out of action, his own tank might be repairable, but would probably need a proper workshop job. He suggested to Spencer to ask the reinforcements to send up an intelligence officer, and possibly a tank transporter. He wanted to go and have a look at the German tanks himself, but the fact they were up-gunned, and up-armoured needed to be known immediately and investigated properly.
 
Not entirely happy with that update, it really could have gone either way, but getting an early look at the improved Panzer III and the problem of needed capped AP for the 2-pdr earlier than OTL was too good an opportunity to pass up. OTL, the Germans found the oasis undefended.
Allan
 
From the description it looks like the tanks on both sides were busy doing there own thing leaving the infantry on their own. Even a couple of Pz. II with the German infantry attacks could have made a difference.
 
The tanks began a dance to be able to avoid being hit, while hitting the enemy in a vulnerable spot. The gunner in Apollo looked as if he had got his act together and scored a disabling hit on one of the German tanks. His own gunner’s cry of delight noted that his second hit on his target had penetrated the enemy. The noise inside the turret was deafening, it seemed a Panzer II was thumping away with its cannon, while not penetrating at the moment, it could well damage something important. Allsup had some vague memory of a lecture about how the Panzers had overwhelmed the French tanks last May with this kind of fast paced manoeuvrability. There was nothing for it, but to knock out the larger Panzers with the long guns, which were an obvious threat, then the lighter tanks could be dealt with, if he was still alive.

As Apollo’s crew bailed out of their tank, Allsup could see the German machine guns cutting them down before they got to safety. He was on his own now, but as far as he could see there was only the one Panzer III left, something had obviously got the other one.
Not clear what happened to Apollo - was it the Pz II?
 
he found himself challenged by a very Cockney accent. Having given the appropriate reply
Allsup being a midlands last name this must be the *official* response to challenge, rather than the highly stressed response in kind to *very* Cockney. I think Allsup is lucky to be alive, but he's recovered rapidly and spent a lot of time managing his stress and his unit's stress in combat rather than worrying about that. That evinces a quality of training for Lieutenants which is hopeful. Identifying and prosecuting action on the main threat rather than being distracted is the outcome of that hope, which makes the update convincing. It isn't just the machine, but it is training adequate to the small group use of the machines. The outcomes for the crews certainly weren't fanciful, or "all sixes," and the Lieutenants' care for his men (when possible) but immediate responsibility to his duty makes the examination of current German tank deployment quite real, rather than fantasy.
 
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I thought the implication was that one of the Pz IIIs got it.
Adonis died after moving from hull down, presumably from a long 50 PzIII.
Apollo was last mentioned picking off on of the German tanks
I think Achilles then gets swarmed by a PzII at close range.
Then Apollo's crew are bailing out and getting machined gunned.

I kind of wondered if a line or two had been cut? Or was it just from Achilles perspective the next thing they saw was Apollo bailing and they don't know what happened?
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Not entirely happy with that update, it really could have gone either way, but getting an early look at the improved Panzer III and the problem of needed capped AP for the 2-pdr earlier than OTL was too good an opportunity to pass up. OTL, the Germans found the oasis undefended.
Allan
Not sure why you aren't happy. Seemed reasonable enough to me. The British didn't have it their own way and suffered heavy casualties in the tanks. Very realistic. Much as I like reading about Fascist reverses, it can't be the Allies rolling double-sixes every time.
 
A small isolated garrison watching an open flank is always going to get a hammering. That they just managed to hold is really all that could be hoped for. The next attack on the oasis won't be a probing attack and unless reinforced it will fall.
 
Not sure why you aren't happy. Seemed reasonable enough to me. The British didn't have it their own way and suffered heavy casualties in the tanks. Very realistic. Much as I like reading about Fascist reverses, it can't be the Allies rolling double-sixes every time.
Wonder if the British realise the value of the Valiants as intel for the Germans as much as they realise the value of the uparmoured / upgunned PzIII. You would hope so but can see a German tanker doing the same as Allsup once the oasis is finally overrun.
 
The big thing from that engagement will be that if any German tankers survived then the realisation of the new British tank will be taking hold.
 
The big thing from that engagement will be that if any German tankers survived then the realisation of the new British tank will be taking hold.
They won't know there are two versions yet and will assume they are all matched by the upgraded Panzer III. That's going to bite them in the backside when the Germans run into the Infantry Tank versions.
 
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